Wednesday, September 22, 2010

MOELLER BACK TO HIS OLD SELF, SECONDARY IS BATTLING INJURY

Photo of Tyler Moeller by The Buckeye Times/Darla Dunkle-Hudnell
COLUMBUS — After sitting out a full year — following a major head injury prior to 2009 — Ohio State senior star Tyler Moeller had to find a way to get his feet under him, knock the rust off, and return to being the player that many envisioned him being coming into last season.

"When he left here the spring of '09, we assumed he'd be a starter," OSU head coach Jim Tressel said of Moeller. "We always say that a guy never loses his position in our minds with an injury ...

"But we weren't sure how it was going to play out."

Who could have imagined it would have played out the way it has? Moeller leads the Buckeyes in tackles for loss, sacks and forced fumbles through three games, and is second on the team in total tackles and interceptions.

Moeller doesn't even look like he's missed a snap, let alone a year's worth of them.

"He's an active guy," Tressel said. "If you remember back to the '09 spring game, I don't know who graduated after '08, but all of a sudden he got more reps and graduated into a role.

"That '09 spring you'd have left the stadium saying he may be one of the leading tacklers next year."

One Buckeye player isn't surprised at all by Moeller's performance thus far, and that player's name is ... Tyler Moeller.

"I knew coming into it what kind of player I am and what kind of plays I can make," Moeller said. "I wanted to show people what I can do and what I could've done a year ago, two years ago, and things like that. So, I know what type of player I am, and what kind of player I can be."

Photo of Dominic Clarke by
The Buckeye Times/Darla Dunkle-Hudnell
SECONDARY IS A LITTLE BANGED UP ... During last Saturday's win over Ohio, the Buckeyes secondary left the game a little banged up.

Starting cornerback Devon Torrence, and his backup Travis Howard, were both dinged during the victory. Torrence returned to action and will play this week against Eastern Michigan, but Howard on the other hand should miss a week or so.

Junior defensive back Donnie Evege also got injured in the win over the Bobcats, his a little more serious though, as Tressel said he would miss a "significant number of weeks."

With sophomore strong safety C.J. Barnett already lost for the season, there are some players in the Buckeyes secondary who will need to step up and fill some important roles in the coming weeks.

"Corner-wise, Dominic Clarke has been a guy that's been fighting to get that done," Tressel said. "(Cornerback) Corey Brown got probably 20 snaps, so those would probably be the two from that standpoint, corner standpoint.

"(Safety) Orhian Johnson has to keep getting better and he played pretty well. Aaron Gant's going to have to be able to step in. Christian Bryant's got to keep coming along at that star position because he probably hasn't had quite as many reps.

"Losing C.J. and now Travis out for a week or two, that's two of your top eight, so numbers nine and 10, they've got to step up."

EASTERN MICHIGAN ... The Buckeyes will host 0-3 Eastern Michigan on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. The Eagles have lost 15 straight games and have been outscored during that span by an average of three touchdowns per outing.

So, how can the Buckeyes prevent looking past such an inferior opponent this Saturday?

"Just like last week," OSU tight end Jake Stoneburner said. "People said we might take OU for granted because we just came off a big win over Miami, and we came out rolling. I don't see why we would do anything different this week."